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Holika Dahana

Holika Dahana


Holika Dahan (Sanskrit: होलिका दाहन्, romanized: Holikā Dāhana, lit. ’Burning of Holika’), rendered Holika Dahanam in Sanskrit or Chotti Holi, is a Hindu festival in which a bonfire is lit to celebrate the burning of the demoness, Holika. This ritual is symbolic of victory of good over evil. It precedes Holi, the festival of colours, which celebrates the spring season. According to legend, Holika was the sister of Hiranyakashipu, who acquired a boon that rendered her invulnerable to fire. She then attempted to kill her nephew, Prahlada, by placing him on her lap in a bonfire. However, she was immolated while Prahlada was saved from the fire.

In South India, this occasion is called Kama Dahanam, and is associated with the legend of Shiva burning Kamadeva to ashes with his third eye. Pantomimes of Kamadeva are performed on this occasion in rural Tamil Nadu, and his effigies are burnt.


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